TODAY JULIA ROBERTS DECLARED BARACK WILL FIX THE ECONOMY. WHEN MOST PEOPLE WERE INFORMED OF ROBERTS' JUDGMENT CALL THE RESPONSE WAS, "WHO?"
JULIA ROBERTS CAREER DIED AS THE 90S DREW TO A CLOSE. SHE'S BEEN VALERIE PERRINE IN THE OCEAN xx FILMS. AND EVERY THING ELSE SHE'S BEEN IN HAS BOMBED. THAT'S 9 YEARS OF BOMBS.
HER INCOMING BOMB PAIRS HER WITH CLIVE OWEN (THE TWO ALREADY BOMBED IN THE CLOSER) IN A POPCORN FLICK THAT HAS PEOPLE ASKING, "IF WE DIDN'T WANT TO SEE THE MEXICAN, WHY WOULD WE WANT TO SEE THIS?"
IN HER 40S AND SEXLESS (DESPITE THE RUMORS ABOUT HER AND SUSIE SARANDON -- ROCK ON, PARTY GIRLS!), NOW A 'MOM' AND BORING AS HELL, JULIA THINKS SHE HAS A CAREER LEFT. SHE TRULY IS PRETTY OLDER WOMAN TODAY AND THE BLOOM IS OFF THE ROSE. SHE SHOULD HAVE LEARNED TO ACT. EVEN SHOOTING COVERAGE, ALAN J. PAKULA COULDN'T HIDE HER INABILITY TO SHIFT FROM ONE EMOTION TO THE NEXT WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE SHE WAS HAVING A SEIZURE. MEN DON'T WANT TO DO HER, WOMEN ARE BORED WITH HER, MAYBE SHE CAN PLAY SOME TEENAGERS' MOMMY ON A CW DRAMA?
Today wowOwow notes Dr. Nawal al-Samaari who was the Women's Affairs minister when wowOwow noted her earlier and they quote her statements to AFP yesterday in an interview explaining her resignation, "I was convinced that I could improve conditions for women, but I ran into a wall . . . the occupation, terrorism, the economy collapsing . . . all that produced an army of widows, an increase in the number of divorcees, unmarried women, women beggars. Society is falling apart and me, I was a minister in a ministry without means, without power, without offices outside Baghdad. Women's issue are not a priority for the government. But if women were helped, I think that half of the societal problems would be resolved." Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports that al-Samaarie (another spelling the press is using) still intends to withdraw her resignation and intends to do so tomorrow, explaining "the new situation" includes "pledges for funds and support from international aid organizations. She also said more than 50 Iraqi women have offered to volunteer to implement the ministry's plans." Her AFP interview yesterday took place on International Women's Day.
Firyal, a 24-year-old widow with a young son, lost her husband when Shi'ite 'authorities' stopped him at a checkpoint in 2006. Her father tried to intervene but had a gun pointed at him. Since her husband's corpse was never found, she receives no pension from the al-Maliki government that likes to brag so about their 'deep concern' ('concern' translates to approximately $1 a day for widows). 20-year-old Zainab also can't collect the meager widow's pension because her husband was kidnapped back in 2006, "I went to the government office to register, hoping that I could get monthly salary but they didn't allow me to because my husband is neither dead or alive, sick or disabled. He was kidnapped and is considered 'missing' and there is no law addressing this. So all I can do is continue with my work [as a domestic cleaner and servant] so I can try to buy milk for my son because it is the most important thing, and also so I can buy some food for my extended family so they can eat lunch and dinner. Sometimes we have only bread and tea to eat for dinner. I can withstand anything, but the children can't." Bushara is a Shi'ite who lost her home when graffitti appeared on it advising "Shiites in the neighbourhood to get out" so she, her husband and their daughter immediately fled and they have had no help from the government despite filling out multiple applications with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration. 41-year-old Nour is a widow living "with 20 people in cramped quarters in Baghdad's Al-Sadr City" who explains, "Our drinking water is drawn by a pump which at the same time draws sewage water which we disinfect with chlorien tablets that we buy at the pharmacy. . . People in the area who can't afford the tablets have fallen ill with many serious diseases like cholera, typhoid, intestinal infections and renal infections, especially in the summer." These are some of the Iraqi women sharing their stories in a new report by Oxfam Internationl. "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talka bout their greatest concerns and challenges" is a survey of 1,700 Iraqi women -- approximately 60% of whom say that security is their first concern, the next grouping (55%) explain that they have been direct or indirect victims of violence since the US invasion began and the same percentage states "they were displaced at least once since 2003." Other findings included almost "25% of women had no daily access to drinking women & half of those who did have daily access to water said it was not potable; 69% said access to water was worse or the same as it was in 2006 & 2007" and "40% of women with children reported that their sons and daughters were not attending school." On the latter issue, "30% of those with children said they could not reach school without security threats." We'll note this section of the 19-page report:
In early 2009, reports of improved security in Iraq, and even a return to 'normality,' began appearing in the media. Similar reports of diminished suicide bombs and other violent indiscriminate attacks emerged at the time of the initial data collection last year. However insecurity remains in many provinces including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Nineveh where small-scale attacks, assassination and kidnappings continue. Women in particular are less safe now than at any other time during the conflict or in the years before.
Beyond security, the overwhelming concern women voiced was extreme difficulty accessing basic servics such as clean water, electricity and adequate shelter despite billions of US dollars that have been spent in the effort to rehabilitate damaged or destroyed infrastructure. Availability of essentials such as water, sanitation and health care is far below national averages. Both the Iraqi organization and researcher that carried out the survey and analyzed its findings corroborated that the overall cchallenges facing women and the Iraqi population as a whole remained the same in early 2009 as they did in the second half of 2008 when the date presented in this paper was collected.
The report notes, "As compared with 2007, 40% felt their security situation was worsening in 2008, 38% said it was improving and the remainder said it had not changes; as compared with 2006; 43% said it was worse, 34% said it was better & 22% said it had not changed." Oxfam calls for a dramatic increase in investments from donor countries to rebuild Iraq's "basic and social services sectors" and notes "The women of Iraq have been caught in the grip of a silent emergency for the past six years." Reporting on Oxfam's study, Mike Sergeant (BBC News) zooms in on one widow, Nadia Hussein who lost her husband, three brothers, saw her home torched -- while she was pregnant and she miscarried, attempted to see help from her extended family only to be beaten and abused by a nephew and now considers home a women's center in Baghdad. Sergeant observes of these Iraqi war widows, "Almost everywhere you go in Baghdad, you can see them begging at traffic lights and outside mosques - dressed from head to toe in black." The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes, "One in five married Iraqi women has been a victim of physical domestic violence, while one in three has been subject to emotional violence. Of the women victims of physical domestic violence, 14% were subject to violence during pregnancy." And the UN "calls for both commitment and effective practical measures to protect and promote rights of Iraqi women. Years of violence, internal conflict and wars have slowed progress towards equality for Iraqi women, and compromised their fundamental rights to education, healthcare, work and full political participation." Sunday Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) tied it in with another study on the general population. That other study -- done by WHO and the Iraqi government -- is nonsense. We're not interested in it. Rubin notes of Oxfan's study, it found "more than three-quarters of all widows were not receiving pensions, and a third of the women surveyed had three hours or less electricity per day." [The other study was addressed Saturday and Sunday.]
Nadje Al-Ali is the co-author (with Nicola Pratt) of What Kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq. At Dissident Voice, Rose Aguilar shares her interview with Nadje. Aguilar is a host of KALW's Your Call (Aguilar spoke with Nadje and Dahr Jamail last month, click here for audio). From the interview:
Rose Aguilar: March 20 marks the six-year anniversary of the invasion. When you look back at this occupation, what comes to mind?
Nadje Al-Ali: The death toll. That's the first thing that comes to mind. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. You have hundreds of thousands of widows. Iraq has become a nation of widows. Sixty-five percent of the population is women. You have some areas of Iraq where about 70 percent are female-headed households and there is no functioning state, so women are forced to beg. Some are forced into prostitution. Some get $100 a month to survive.
RA: What else is new about today's situation?
NA: We've never seen a situation where women were told to stay at home or forced to follow a dress code or told not to drive, which is happening in certain parts of Iraq. This is a totally new phenomenon. Last year in Basra, 133 women were killed by various Islamist groups for allegedly not being Islamic enough. This is not to say that things were wonderful under the previous regime, but one of the things that has been disturbing for me is the fact that some of the women and men I've talked to who suffered under the previous regime and under sanctions and wars, say it was better then than it is now.
Also, what I think is forgotten is the humanitarian crisis. Six years afterwards, people still don't have electricity. They need generators if they want electricity. Seventy percent of Iraqis don't have access to clean water. Eighty percent don't have access to sewage. The hospitals are in very bad shape. We haven't seen any reconstruction, really.
Iraq women are the canaries in the coalmine which is why it was always so important for the US government to ignore them and for their lapdogs in the press to do the same. Reporting on them, reporting what was happening to them, meant telling even a little bit of truth about the illegal war and that could not be allowed. John F. Burns and Dexy Filkins managed to avoid women in one report after another filed for the New York Times until the Go-Go Boys finally left the Green Zone and the country. Sabrina Tavernise, Ellen Knickmeyer and others (including many men, such as Damien Cave) were able to find Iraqi women and to tell their stories or include their thougths in their reports. But all this time later what does it really matter? Who bothers to cover Iraqi women. Friday's snapshot noted Amnesty International's new report [PDF format warning] entitled "Trapped By Violence: Women In Iraq." There have been many reports. And look at those who cashed in on the illegal war, who made their movies about it, who wrote their books about it and who lost interest. At some of their sites you might find, for example, a sexist comic featuring a doll turning 50. A doll. It's not a funny comic and, more to the point, these men never cover the Mattel doll anymore than they cover real women. But they can waste our time with their limp ravings over Barack, they just can't ever note the realities for Iraqi women. It's disgusting. And the problem is with our society. The problems with the US society allowed the White House to rank priorities and to be sure that women would fall to the bottom in Iraq. The priorities in the US allow so many 'brave' voices to avoid the issue of Iraqi women day after day damn day. It's not important to them, you understand. But they've got time to share a sexist comic about a doll. [Click here for Bob Somerby on how much space has been wasted addressing the doll. In fairness to some wasting it, if they played with the doll, they are no worse than those distracting us with sports columns outside the sports pages.] Oxfam released their report yesterday, Amnesty released their report last week, yesterday was International Women's Day. Now go check the very-beyond-middle-aged boiz and see what they're writing about. Iraqi women have been under attack non-stop since the start of the illegal war. The fact that there remains so little coverage of it in the US does not go to the very serious problems Iraq currently has -- it goes to the serious societal problems in the US which encourage and allow 'brave' voices to find diversions and distractions to 'cover.'
Yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared, "Put simply, we have much less hope of addressing the complex challenges we face in this new century without the full participation of women. . . . Women still comprise the majority of the world's poor, unfed, and unschooled. Hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth every year. They are subjected to rape as a tactic of war and exploited by traffickers globally in a billion dollar criminal business. Laws are still on the books denying women the right to own property, access credit, or make their own choices within their marriage. And honor killings, maiming, female genital mutilation, and other violent and degrading practices that target women are tolerated in too many places today. Like all people, women deserve to live free from violence and fear. To create peaceful, thriving communities, women must be equal partners. That means making key resources available to women as well as men, including the chance to work for fair wages and have access to credit; to vote, petition their governments and run for office; to know they can get healthcare when they need it, including family planning; and to send their children to school -- their sons and their daughters. Women also have a crucial role to play in establishing peace worldwide. In regions torn apart by war, it is often the women who find ways to reach across differences and discover common ground as mothers, caretakers, and grassroots advocates. One need only look to Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Balkans, and parts of Central America to see the impact of women working in their communities to bridge divides in areas of sectarian conflict. This week, as we celebrate the accomplishments and the untapped potential of women around the world, we must remind ourselves that ensuring the rights of women and girls is not only a matter of justice. It is a matter of enhancing global peace, progress, and prosperity for generations to come. When women are afforded their basic rights, they flourish. And so do their children, families, communities, and nations."
Last week, the US State Dept honored various women with their International Women of Courage Awards and we'll note Suaad Allami: "A prominent lawyer, Suaad Allami fights against the erosion of women's rights and defends the most disadvantaged. She founded the NGO Women for Progress and the Sadr City Women's Center, which offers free medical care, literacy education, vocational training, and legislative advocacy. She has accepted a Humphrey Fellowship from the State Department for academic year 2009-2010." Among the obstacles Iraqi women face are the thugs the US installed. Liz Sly (Chicago Tribune) reported on one such thug, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, Saturday and quoted him 'explaining', "We are the sons of the province, and we are ready to run the province." Shakey Risha, a Mafia don put on the US payroll, is most infamous recently for threatening mass violence in Al Anbar Province if his political party was not made the winners of the provincial election there. Sly quotes Khamis Ahmeda Abtan (of Iraqi Islamic Party) stating, "People think the results were made up -- a deal with the government in Baghdad and also the Americans to satisify Abu Risha. Anbar is going to be ruled acrodding to emotions and according to affiliations of tribes. We're already seeing it. People are saying, 'We're of X tribe, so we've got to have X job.' I don't think this is good for the security of the province."
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